As with many great ideas and ventures, the venerable Litquake festival was born in a pub — specifically, at San Francisco’s Edinburgh Castle pub, over pints between festival founders Jack Boulware and Jane Ganahl.

The first version of Litquake, then called “Litstock,” was a one-day literary festival held outdoors in Golden Gate Park in 1999. A few years later, with an ever-growing presence and popularity, the annual festival was reborn as Litquake. A couple years after that, Litquake expanded to include a closing-night literary pub crawl, Lit Crawl, that has become so hugely successful that it’s expanded to seven cities outside of San Francisco, including New York City, Austin, Seattle and London.

So what is Litquake, exactly? It’s a literary festival, yes. It’s also a tangible, raucous, booze-fueled, community-driven celebration of the written word. Now nine days long, with an epicenter in San Francisco and spreading to every side of the Bay, Litquake takes over bookstores, restaurants, hotels, bars, libraries, places of worship and more with a cornucopia of readings, workshops and literary events.

This year’s 14th annual Litquake offers more than 820 authors and journalists in more than 160 events. From Isabelle Allende to Adam Mansbach, from the Porchlight storytelling series to Literary Death Match (one of whose judges, by the way, will be 1988 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Brian Boitano…), Litquake has something for everyone, and I would encourage you to check out the full festival program to see what’s in store.

This year, there are three Litquake events taking place in the East Bay, for those whose literary passion extends as far as this side of the Bay Bridge. Below is the lineup of the East Bay Litquake events, with the event descriptions, reprinted verbatim:

Thaisa Frank Reads from Heidegger’s Glasses

Author and longtime UC Berkeley Extension writing instructor Thaisa Frank reads from her 2010 novel Heidegger’s Glasses, translationed into  ten languages. Part love story, part thriller, part meditation on how the dead are remembered and history is presented, with threads of Heidegger’s philosophy woven throughout, the novel evocatively illustrates the Holocaust through an almost dreamlike state. Frank also discusses the role of diaries and record keeping during World War II, which shaped the writing of this novel.

WHEN: Sunday, October 13, 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Magnes, 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley
COST: Free

Lit on the Lake: A Plunge into the East Bay’s Literary Depths

Some of our most critically acclaimed literary minds reside in the East Bay, and each year Litquake showcases the diverse talent of these authors. Enjoy a cocktail and a bite to eat from a literary-themed menu, while seated comfortably in the Lake Chalet’s beautifully appointed Gondola Room.

WHEN: Sunday, October 13, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Lake Chalet, Gondola Room, 1520 Lakeside Dr., Oakland
COST: $5 – 10 suggested donation

Inside the California Food Revolution

In her authoritative new book, Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years That Changed Our Culinary Consciousness, celebrated chef and author Joyce Goldstein traces California food culture from the 1970s to the present, a time when “farm-to-table,” “foraging” and “fusion cuisine” have become part of the national vocabulary. Join us for cocktails and an intimate discussion about how the Bay Area played a major role in changing the way the world eats. In conversation with Carolyn Jung.

WHEN: Thursday, October 17, 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Marsh Arts Center, 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley
COST: $10 suggested donation


Oakland Social is a weekly arts and culture column devoted to upcoming events, new places, and narratives about going out in Oakland. Have ideas for what to cover? Contact

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